Archive for August, 2007

August 31, 2007

Stiff

I feel crappy. My neck and upper to mid back are sore and stiff. My head and face hurts. I am so tired. l hope this doesn’t ruin my Labor Day weekend. 

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August 27, 2007

Dreams About School

Most of the Baltimore area public school and college students are back in school this week, including myself. So, here are some re-occurring dreams I’ve had throughout the years about school. I remember little about school or my classmates compared to most people. But for some reason, I keep having these general dreams.

Elementary-Middle School:

  • The naked dreams: I showed up to class naked. At the time, I thought I was weird and didn’t realize just about everyone has this dream.
  • The I’m wearing something you shouldn’t wear in public dreams: I would accidentally show up to an “important” social event (roller skating party or dance) wearing something ridiculous. This would be a big event that I was looking forward to and/or nervous about. I’d wear my ugly clothes that I wore around the house. I’m not talking about cute pajamas. I mean, old beat up clothes that I wear when I’m dying my hair or stuff that looks horrible but it doesn’t matter because no one else will see, such as see-through short shorts my relatives bought me. Sometimes I’d even have rollers in my hair but didn’t realize it until people were pointing and laughing. The guy I had a crush on would see.

High School:

  • The beginning of summer dreams: I’d always have dreams in the beginning of summer that it was the first day of school already. The summer went by so quickly and I wasted it away and accomplished nothing.
  • The beginning of school dreams: The beginning of the school year, I’d always have dreams that it was the last day of school already and summer had started.

Post High School – Present Day:

  • The I didn’t really graduate dreams: These dreams (borderline nightmares) can vary, but for some reason something got changed or messed up and now I have to back to high school. Sometimes it’s a new law and everyone from my class has to go back to fulfill something. Other times, it’s that the school realized after I graduated that I did something wrong and didn’t really get a passing grade in one of my classes and so I have to go back and re-take the class to graduate.
  • The I never attend a certain class all semester dreams: I have this dream about high school and college. Some of the times I had these dreams happened during a weird time in my life and so I spent a while wondering if it was just a dream or a dream that was re-calling something that really happened. I know now that obviously, none of this happened. Silly me.
    1. I keep meaning to attend the class, but something keeps happening. Either the class is in such a bizarre location that I can’t possibly make it there in time from my previous class or something keeps happening to make me miss it, such as a conflicting event or just plain sleeping in by accident.
    2. I have the class all semester but somehow was never informed. I don’t realize until toward the end of the semester and I try to explain that I didn’t know, but no one believes me. I fail the class obviously.
August 22, 2007

An Asian-American perspective of Affirmative Action

From “Model Minority”:

Asian American status in affirmative action

Because of their high degree of success as a group, Asian Americans do not benefit from affirmative action policies the way other minority groups do. In fact, most schools routinely choose lower-scoring applicants from other racial groups, including European Americans, over Asian Americans, in an attempt to promote racial diversity and to maintain some proportion to the society’s racial demographics. [11]
A 2005 Princeton study showed Asians (not whites) bear nearly 80% of the cost of affirmative action in college admissions. Nearly four out of every five spots given to any other race in an affirmative-action regime would go to Asians in a purely merit-based system. 1


From “Affirmative Action Bake Sale”:

Asians not counted as minorities

Asians are generally not included in the minority-discount category in bake-sales because they do not benefit from affirmative action policies. For example, some schools have had restrictions on the proportion of Asian students admitted, in favor of lower scoring students of other racial groups.1 African-American Dr. Walter E. Williams, a libertarian professor of economics at George Mason University further elaborates that:

“A minority group is not (counted as) a minority if, as a group, it is successful. Asian median family income is $55,525, the highest of any racial group in America. More than 44 percent of Asians age 25 and over have bachelor’s degrees; the rate for all other Americans was 26 percent. Other indicators of group success include low crime rate and high family stability.” [1]

From “Affirmative Action in the United States”:

Libertarian view

Some free market libertarians argue that employment discrimination is only made possible by pervasive market failures. Under a regime of highly competitive labor and goods markets, companies would not be able to afford to hire on any basis other than merit. According to Libertarians, this would render affirmative action unnecessary.
Regardless of the willingness to pay and profitability for private persons or groups to discriminate, other libertarian-oriented persons further argue that affirmative action and non-discrimination policies violate individual rights of freedom of association and the enforcement of such statues violate individual freedom of speech. They argue that such central authority to dictate moral and social improvement is a power that will be fought over on all sides and ultimately cause more harm than good. For example, private female-only gyms have been forced to hire male workers, American colleges have discriminated against Asian students (on the grounds that they are “overrepresented”), and in Washington DC, individuals have been forbidden to advertise that they wish to share an apartment with another Democrat, homosexual, or with someone of similar faith. They conclude that application of affirmative action and anti-discrimination laws to the conduct or property of an individual or a private group is a threat to civil liberties.[20]

Centrist view

Certain people have a different point of view about specifically first world affirmative action which, for lack of a better word, will be referred to as “centrist” here. They claim that affirmative action makes sense, but only to the point where it helps the disadvantaged members of minorities, as opposed to the middle and upper class. They believe that affirmative action, as it is now, is not fulfilling its original purpose (to bring minorities out of poverty) as the vast majority of minorities, in the first world at least, are already middle-class. There have been cases of middle-class minorities receiving better jobs or college acceptance rates than whites of equal or lower income or social standing. According to this point of view, affirmative action should be eliminated and joined with the normal welfare system that helps both whites and blacks that are lower-class. They believe that affirmative action should only be used to bring the lower class, not a specific racial group, out of poverty. This view is particularly associated with the liberal academic and author Walter Benn Michaels. [21]


Why am I posting this? Well, with going back to school next week and hearing a discussion about affirmative action on The Ed Norris Show right now, this is a side to the debate that I do not hear people talk about!
When I first moved from Dayton, OH to Baltimore, MD in the mid-nineties, my parents had to fill out some paperwork to transfer me to the school system here. They did it all and I had nothing to do with it. I remember when they were done, they had a talk with me. They said an issue came up that hadn’t been talked about when we lived in Ohio. They didn’t know what to put down for me under the Race Category. Should they put down Asian, Caucasian, or Other? (There was no choice to put down more than one or specifically what you are if you’re multi-racial). The school counselor strongly urged them to put down Asian because this would stay on my records for years and this would supposedly help me greatly as far as getting into college. The counselor also told them to tell me I should always put down Asian on my applications to colleges in the future, so that I would have an easier time being accepted. I was slightly surprised at this because I had rarely (if ever) even heard about affirmative action until that day. I would have put down Asian regardless of all this, but now I was told this was my only choice. I just said that was fine and that was the end of it. It was done.
Fast forward a few years to my senior year of high school. I was in a class and we were having a heated debate about affirmative action. I was the first non-Caucasian person to raise my hand. When the teacher called on me to discuss this, there were these comments from classmates that went: “Of course, you like affirmative action. You benefit from it.” This was before I started talking. Then I told them something that surprised them. I said that I thought being Asian-American actually hurt my chances of getting into college more than if I were any other race. I told them the reasons I felt this way (the reasons that are stated above) and almost everyone told me I was crazy. At the time, I didn’t have the facts and figures to back up my claim. I hadn’t even heard anyone else state they thought this was true and I had certainly never read an article on this. My teacher, on the other hand, agreed with me fully! And this teacher almost never said what his opinion was on any topics. He usually stayed neutral. But he let the class know he thought I was right in this matter. He said he had known this for years. He said he knew college professors who had told him this was true. He knew Asian-American students in the past who should have been accepted to colleges but were rejected, while students of other races (including Caucasians) were accepted to those same schools and programs during the same time even though they were much less qualified.
Of course, I am not trying to re-enforce the stereotype that all Asians study hard and get good grades. Yes, I was always a good student who was on the Honor Roll/Dean’s List and took higher-level classes (Honors, Gifted/Talented, Advanced Placement, etc). But I have been told for years that for an Asian,  I’m not that studious. (Of course, that is an annoying statement). I don’t excel at math! I don’t stay at home every weekend to study – I have a social life. And this describes a lot of other Asian-Americans, not just me.
But the fact of the matter is, as a whole, we get high scores. I have heard jokes from friends that they hardly see Asians in Baltimore, but when they go into their college library, they see the most they’ve seen in their lives. (Meaning there is a much higher percentage of Asians in college than there are Asians in the general population).
I’m not saying we’re a smarter race. I’m just pointing out facts here. I think a big part of it has not only to do with the fact that standards in schools are higher in many other countries outside of North America, but also that a select population comes to this country from Asia. Think about it. It’s a lot harder for someone from Asia to move to this country than it would be for someone who lives in a neighboring country. Driving here is a lot easier and cheaper than flying here. The languages are a lot different from English than Spanish vs. English or Italian vs. English.  This makes it a lot harder to learn the language. (I know not all Asians are immigrants. There are some who have been here for years and are second, third, etc. generation. But you get my point). So you’re not going to get as many Asians coming to this country as you would of people from counties which are closer. You’re going to get those who really want to come here and work hard to do so. You’re going to be more likely to get the “top” people of their communities because they are the ones who have a strong work ethic and a drive to succeed.
Here’s my point. Asian-Americans are discriminated just as much, if not more, as other “minorities” do right now. We have been treated unfairly in this nation’s past. Sure, most public schools do not teach this. They talk about how African-Americans or Jewish people have had it hard, but they usually skip all the stuff that happened to Asians (and other groups). But just because they don’t teach it doesn’t mean it didn’t happen! If you don’t know, look it up. I’m not going to say that we had it as bad as slavery, but there were some major injustices. We were segregated. Most people I talk to aren’t even aware of the internment camps, which happened as recently as the 1940s! This wasn’t talked about in school. We celebrate Black History Month, but do any of you know when Asian Pacific American Heritage month is? Did you even know it existed at all? Because I didn’t until I was curious and looked it up on the internet about ten years ago. The ch word or the g word is spoken on television but the n word or the k word are almost always bleeped out. I could go on and on about discrimination of Asian-Americans (and I probably will in a future post), but the point is this: Affirmative Action was put into place to help “even out” the injustices of discrimination. But this hurts us and if you believe in affirmative action, I would think you would agree we have been discrimated against and therefore should benefit from this. Right? I am making sense here?
I believe if we are going to keep Affirmative Action, things need to change. Not only because of the Asian-American issues. But it seems like some of the wrong people are benefiting from affirmative action. I hear reports about how many privileged, African-American students from well-off families (who don’t  need as much assistance) will be able to use this to their advantage while poorer, under-privileged African-American students who are much more disadvantaged are turned away even though they are intelligent, hard-working, and well-achieving students. This has been said about other minority groups. So who are we really helping? We might be hurting people more than we are helping certain others.
We can have the debate whether or not affirmative action should exist at all. But that’s another discussion. If it is going to exist, it needs to adapt to the changes of society. Rules about other things change based on changes in the world and changes in time and affirmative action should also be adjusted accordingly. Just exactly how should we change things? That’s a complicated matter that doesn’t have a simple solution. All I do know for sure is that something does need to be improved.

August 21, 2007

West Coast – Where to move?

I’ve been wanting to move for a while now.  I don’t hate Baltimore. I know I would miss it. But I need a change. I considered moving several years ago, but didn’t because I ended up meeting the band I was in and that took off. So I willingly stayed.
I’m not going to move right now.  I need to finish school. Then I need to start my career and get some experience for a few years, save some money, and then go for it. So it’s going to be a while before it happens.

One thing that’s important to me is the weather. But unlike a lot of people, I don’t want to live someplace where it’s hot year round. I think places with Mediterranean or Marine west coast/Oceanic climates would be ideal. This basically mean it’s those “in-between” temperatures most of the year: not too hot, not too cold: Spring and Fall weather, basically. I can’t stand humidity anymore. I can’t take these windy and cold winters in Maryland. It’s not that I can’t just suck it up. My body physically reacts badly to it! When it’s cold outside, my back muscles really tense up. They tense up so much that it hurts. There’s nothing I can do to just make the muscles relax (unless maybe I was prescribed a pill, but I’d rather not go that route if I could avoid it). And when it’s really hot and humid out, my skin reacts badly. This summer, I’ve been breaking out worse than I ever have in my life.  But when we get a few days or a week of not-as-hot weather, my skin improves a lot.
The weather also really affects my mood. For one thing, when the clocks go back in the fall, I can’t stand it. I realize that most of the U.S. changes the clocks in the fall and spring.  But it does get darker almost an hour earlier in Baltimore than it did when I was growing up in Dayton, Ohio because of its latitude in the time zone. We’re closer to the beginning of the time zone, but Dayton is at the end of the zone.

I think West Coast would be right for me. Not just because of the weather, but because of the culture and economies out there. And I just need something different from Baltimore. If I moved somewhere else on the East Coast, not only would I not have the desired weather, but it would be too similar to here.

So what cities have my desired climate in North America? There’s San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, and Vancouver, Canada. San Diego/SF were my first choices. But the cost of living is so ridiculously high there, that I just don’t think they are the best choices. Everyone I know who’s been to San Diego says the people are nice, their sinuses/allergies are virtually gone (that would be great for me), the crime is relatively low, and it’s generally an awesome town. (Though most places would have lower crime than Baltimore). But I need to live somewhere somewhat reasonable. I know I’ll eventually be making more money, but that doesn’t mean I want to pay a lot more for the same things and struggle for basic needs.
 
I’ve always kind of considered moving to Canada in the back of my mind. The country seems beautiful.  Maybe it’s just the “grass is greener” thing, but it seems better in general there. I know it’s not perfect. But they seem to have less serious problems than America does.  But the thing is, a lot of Canada is cold. Vancouver has the Oceanic climate. But it’s also very expensive. Its housing is about the 13th highest in the whole world. That’s bad.
So that brings me to Seattle and Portland. They seem like awesome towns. They are pretty liberal. They have good music and arts scenes. Of course, that’s important to me. When I was a teenager, I wanted to move there just because a lot of the bands I liked where from those two cities (as well as Olympia). But as I’m getting older, there are other reasons I think it seems decent. Seattle has a great economy. It seems like a pretty city. I know these cities aren’t cheap, but I think they are do-able. All of the people I know who’ve lived in Seattle say good things about the place. When I tell most people I am thinking about Seattle, they tell me it rains a ton there. But if you look at the annual rainfall, it’s less than Baltimore. And Baltimore doesn’t get an extreme amount of rain.
According to Wikipedia: “Despite being on the margin of the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountains, the city of Seattle has a reputation for frequent rain. In reality, the so-called “rainy city” receives an unremarkable 37.1 inches (94.2 cm) of precipitation a year, which is much less precipitation than New York City, Atlanta, and Houston and most cities of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States. Seattle’s worldwide reputation for rain derives from the fact that it is cloudy (not rainy) an average of 226 days per year (vs. 132 in New York City). Most of the precipitation falls as drizzle or light rain, with downpours happening only occasionally. The spring, late fall, and winter are filled with days when it does not rain but looks as if it may because of cloudy, overcast skies.”
People think it’s weird but I like overcast weather. Yesterday (before it rained), I thought the weather was near perfect. It wasn’t too dark out, but it wasn’t annoyingly bright. The temperature was great. It was overcast. That may sound weird, but that’s how I feel. My body just feels better when the weather is different and my mood is affected.
Of course, I can hear things about cities from people and I can read articles. But I won’t know for sure where I want to move until I go around and visit the places. I am hoping by next year to visit Seattle and Portland. I need a vacation anyway and it would make sense to go somewhere I’m considering living.

I was also somewhat considering Las Vegas, which I never thought of until recently. Obviously it’s the desert and not Mediterranean. But it’s still not as humid as the East Coast. And I’d rather have really hot summers than have the hot summers and cold, windy winters we have here. I’m not a gambler, so I didn’t think Vegas would be for me. But talking to my friend Tommy who moved there, he made it seem like a place I might really like. He doesn’t gamble, either. There is a whole other scene there for the locals.

So who knows for sure where I’ll end up living. I have several years to decide for sure. But it doesn’t hurt to get a good idea sooner than that.

August 20, 2007

I need to go for a walk.

I’m really glad it’s cooler outside. I need to go for a walk.
I have a lot of different emotions going on at all once right now – happy, frustrated, excited, annoyed, impatient, optimistic, hopeful, pessimistic, realistic, appreciated, and forgotten.
Hopefully, some good musical creations will come from this.

August 19, 2007

Better weather

Thank goodness that it’s been a lot cooler the past couple days! I hope I’m not jinxing anything by saying that.

Look at this week’s forecast:

Tonight        Tomorrow     Tue               Wed                               Thu                      
T-storms Rain/ Thunder T-storms Scattered T-storms Isolated T-storms
High: 84°
Low: 70°
High: 76°
Low: 71°
High: 81°
Low: 72°
High: 80°
Low: 75°
High: 87°
Low: 76°

I don’t even care that it might rain. I’d rather have that than too sunny, humid, 100+ degree weather.

August 17, 2007

CIA and FBI caught editing Wikipedia

CIA, FBI computers used for Wikipedia edits

By Randall Mikkelsen Thu Aug 16, 6:44 PM ET

People using CIA and FBI computers have edited entries in the online encyclopedia Wikipedia on topics including the Iraq war and the Guantanamo prison, according to a new tracing program.
The changes may violate Wikipedia’s conflict-of-interest guidelines, a spokeswoman for the site said on Thursday.
The program, WikiScanner, was developed by Virgil Griffith of the Santa Fe Institute in New Mexico and posted this month on a Web site that was quickly overwhelmed with searches.
The program allows users to track the source of computers used to make changes to the popular Internet encyclopedia where anyone can submit and edit entries.
WikiScanner revealed that CIA computers were used to edit an entry on the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003. A graphic on casualties was edited to add that many figures were estimated and were not broken down by class.
Another entry on former CIA chief William Colby was edited by CIA computers to expand his career history and discuss the merits of a Vietnam War rural pacification program that he headed.
Aerial and satellite images of the U.S. prison for terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, were removed using a computer traced to the FBI, WikiScanner showed.
CIA spokesman George Little said he could not confirm whether CIA computers were used in the changes, adding that “the agency always expects its computer systems to be used responsibly.”
The FBI did not have an immediate response.
Computers at numerous other organizations and companies were found to have been involved in editing articles related to them.
Griffith said he developed WikiScanner “to create minor public relations disasters for companies and organizations I dislike (and) to see what ‘interesting organizations’ (which I am neutral towards) are up to.”
It was not known whether changes were made by an official representative of an agency or company, Griffith said, but it was certain the change was made by someone with access to the organization’s network.
It violates Wikipedia’s neutrality guidelines for a person with close ties to an issue to contribute to an entry about it, said spokeswoman Sandy Ordonez of the Wikimedia Foundation, Wikipedia’s parent organization.
However, she said, “Wikipedia is self-correcting,” meaning misleading entries can be quickly revised by another editor. She said Wikimedia welcomed the WikiScanner.
WikiScanner can be found at wikiscanner.virgil.gr/
(Taken from: http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070816/wr_nm/security_wikipedia_dc&printer=1;_ylt=AjkkixF4eLl6ri9.ENYQxE8h2.cA)

This doesn’t surprise me. I’ve suspected this and I’ve also wondered if book reviews on sites such as Amazon have been posted by the FBI, CIA, FDA, FTC, etc.

August 16, 2007

Getting ready to go back to school

I visited school on Tuesday.  I met with the Program Advisor for Office Administration.  I am switching majors from when I attended in 2000-01. (I was going for Interactive Design then and I am now going for Legal Office Administration). Whenever you switch majors, you have to meet with the Program Advisor. She was really nice and helpful.
Walking around the campus made me really realize just how long it’s been since I’ve been there. The campus is beautiful like it was before. I walked around for a bit because the weather was nice that day. The landscape is nice. There are also some changes. It seems like there are more computers hooked up to the internet. There were rooms with those computers before, but it seems like there are more. Also, there is more security. There are those boxes where you can call for help. Those weren’t there before.
I bought my textbooks online yesterday. I saved a bunch of money. Two of the books I bought new from eBay and they were still half price than buying them new at the campus bookstore. Another book I bought used but it’s still cheaper than buying the same book used from the school’s store. The site http://www.campusbooks.com is awesome for me because I can type in the ISBNs for all the books at one time. And it shows where to buy each one that’s the cheapest. And unlike google or yahoo product searches, it’s updated in real time.

I just need to receive the books and buy a few school supplies and I’m ready to go!

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August 16, 2007

My new myspace profile layout

I know some of you hate MySpace. I think it’s overrated and buggy, among other things.  But I did make a new layout and here’s a preview:

my new myspace layout

my new myspace profile layout

(I posted this entry yesterday, but it didn’t show up in anyone’s friends lists or any feeds for some reason).

August 15, 2007

I want one of the new iMacs

          I’m a Mac.                                     I’m a PC.

I want one of the new iMacs so badly. Not only are the computer and new keyboard amazing, but the new software Apple has released is awesome. I played around with that at the Apple store this past weekend and it made me wish I had the money so I could go home with one.
I’m planning on buying one in October. That’s when I estimate I’ll have the money and that’s when Leopard (OS X 10.5) comes out anyway.

I might post video blogs here and there after I get the computer. It comes with iSight and iMovie, so that I can do all that. Yeah, I have a digital video camera now but it’s crappy. What do you think? Should I make a video post here and there after I get the computer? Or do you find video blogs annoying?

What’s funny is I somehow ended up on Dell’s mailing list. I got one of their catalogs in the mail today. I’m thinking that maybe my school sold them my information. I can’t think of how else I got on there.